South Panola records 47-13 win in Starkville
Kicker Clayton Sibley may have missed his first extra-point attempt for the South Panola Tigers Friday night in Starkville, but it didn't matter.
South Panola, the nation's No. 1 ranked team, made up for it by scoring 26 points in the first quarter and went on to defeat the Starkville Yellowjackets 47-13 in Class 6A, Region 1 action.
The Tigers put the clamps on the Jackets offense, only allowing 136 yards rushing and 67 yards passing.
Once South Panola got a lead, things snowballed quickly in Starkville.
"You get behind and they force you to throw the ball more than you want to do it," Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. "We loved to have been able to stay with the run a little bit and hopefully stay in the ballgame. That was our whole goal, but when you get in a hole like that, it
makes it tough."
The Jackets (5-5 overall, 3-3 region) didn't help their cause by losing four fumbles during the course of the game.
"We've been so great in take-away and give-away ratio all year long and we have three fumbles right there at the start of the game," Mitchell said. "They put so much pressure. They're going to blow it open when they get those kind of chances."
The Tigers (10-0 overall, 6-0 region) unleashed every aspect of their game upon the Jackets.
On South Panola's first offensive possession, Qyen Griffin broke loose on a 72-yard touchdown run.
Starkville's defense caused Griffin to initially run backward on the play, but he found room around the left end and out-ran the pursuit to score.
Griffin got another touchdown on his third touch of the game, an 8-yard run, to increase the Tigers advantage to 12-0.
A 31-yard fumble recovery return by Kieddrick Flowers, a two-point conversion pass from Mississippi State commitment Kendrick Market to Donnell Chapman and a 19-yard touchdown pass from Market to Taylor Rotenberry completed the first-quarter scoring for South Panola.
The Jackets got points to open the second quarter when Stanley Childs returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown, but the Tigers answered right back when Market tossed another scoring pass out of the 'wildcat' formation of 3 yards to Marcus Henry.
South Panola opened the second half with an eight-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lee Self to another MSU commitment Nickolas Brassell.
Griffin had a parting shot before he left Starkville with a 65-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Griffin finished the game with 19 carries for 294 yards to go along with his three touchdowns.
With Griffin's contribution, the Tigers totaled 400 yards on the ground.
Preston Baker, who finished the scoring with a 21-yard run in the fourth quarter, led the Jackets with 11 carries for 68 yards. Jaquez Johnson completed 5 of 11 pass attempts for 70 yards and added 31 yards on the ground.
Starkville tries to end the regular season on a winning note next week when it hosts Columbus.
The Jackets still have an opportunity to make the playoffs by beating the Falcons, but will need help to get in.
"We don't have time to even think about (the loss to South Panola) because (Columbus) is the biggest game we'll play," Mitchell said. "We've got to have this one. We've got to have some help, but we can't worry about that."
South Panola coach Lance Pogue said Starkville can be a dangerous team in the playoffs if it somehow finds a way to sneak in.
"They lost four games this year and could have been undefeated," Pogue said. "They took Meridian and Noxubee County to the wire earlier in the year and lost the last two weeks in a row on the last play. They are going to regroup I know and they'll be dangerous in the playoffs."